The Mahabharata Home
"Vaisampayana said, 'Entering her abode and worshipping her feet, Kesava represented to her briefly all that had transpired in the assembly of the Kurus. And Vasudeva said, 'Diverse words, worthy of being accepted and fraught with reasons, were said both by myself and the Rishis, but Duryodhana accepted them not. As regards Suyodhana and his followers, their hour is come. With thy leave now, I shall speedily repair unto the Pandavas. What should I say unto the Pandavas as thy instructions to them? Tell me that, O thou endued with great wisdom. I desire to hear thy words.'
"Kunti said, 'O Kesava, say unto king Yudhishthira of virtuous soul these words, 'Thy virtue, O son, is decreasing greatly. Do not act vainly. O king, like a reader of the Vedas incapable of catching their real meaning, and, therefore, truly unlearned. Thy understanding, affected by only the words of the Vedas, vieweth virtue alone. Cast thy eyes on the duties of thy own order, as ordained by the Self-create. For all ruthless deeds and for the protection of the people, from his (Brahmana's) arms was created the Kshatriya, who is to depend upon the prowess of his own arms. Listen, an instance is cited in this connection, that hath been heard by me from the aged. In days of yore, Vaisravana, having been gratified, made a gift of this Earth to the royal sage Muchukunda. The latter without accepting the gift, said, 'I desire to enjoy that sovereignty which is won by prowess of arms.' At this, Vaisravana was highly delighted and filled with wonder. King Muchukunda then, fully observing the duties of the Kshatriya order ruled this earth, having conquered it by the prowess of his arms. Then again, a sixth part of the virtue, practised by subjects well-protected by the king, is obtained, 'O Bharata, by the king. The virtue again that the king himself practiseth conferreth godhead on him, while if he perpetrateth sin, he goeth to hell. The penal code properly applied by the ruler, maketh the four orders adhere to their respective duties, and leadeth to an acquisition (by the ruler himself) of virtue (profit, and salvation). When the king properly abideth by the penal code, without making any portion of it a dead letter, then that best of periods called the Krita Yuga setteth in. Let not this doubt be thine, viz., whether the era is the cause of the king, or the king the cause of the era, for (know this to be certain that) the king is the cause of the era. It is the king that createth the Krita, the Treta, or the Dwapara age. Indeed, it is the king that is the cause of also the fourth Yuga (viz., the Kali). That king who causeth the Krita age to set in, enjoyeth heaven exceedingly. That king who causeth the Treta age to set in, doth enjoy heaven but not exceedingly. For thus causing the Dwapara age to set in, a king enjoyeth heaven according to his due. The king, however, who causeth the Kali age to set in, earneth sin exceedingly. Thereupon, that king of wicked deeds resideth in hell for countless years. Indeed, the king's sins affect the world, and the world's sins affect him. Observe thou those kingly duties of thine that befit thy ancestry. That is not the conduct of a royal sage in which thou wishest to abide. Indeed, he that is stained by weakness of heart and adhereth to compassion, and is unsteady, never obtaineth the merit born of cherishing his subjects with love. That understanding according to which thou art now acting was never wished (to thee) by Pandu, or myself, or thy grandsire, while we uttered blessings on thee before; sacrifice, gift, merit, and bravery, subjects and children, greatness of soul, and might, and energy, these were always prayed by me for thee. Well-wishing Brahmanas duly worshipped and gratified the gods and the Pitris for your long life, wealth, and children, by adding Swaha and Swadha. The mother and the father, as also the
gods always desire for their children liberality and gift and study and sacrifice and sway over subjects. Whether all this be righteous or unrighteous, you are to practise it, in consequence of your very birth. (Behold, O Krishna, so far from doing all this), though born in a high race, they are yet destitute of the very means of support, and are afflicted with misery. Hungry men, approaching a brave and bountiful monarch, are gratified, and live by his side. What virtue can be superior to this? A virtuous person, upon acquiring a kingdom, should in this world make all persons his own, attaching some by gift, some by force, and some by sweet words. A Brahmana should adopt mendicancy; a Kshatriya should protect (subjects); a Vaisya should earn wealth; and a Sudra should serve the other three. Mendicancy, therefore, is forbidden to thee. Nor is agriculture suited to thee. Thou art a Kshatriya and therefore, the protector of all in distress. Thou art to live by the prowess of thy arms. O thou of mighty arms, recover thy paternal share of the kingdom which thou hast lost, by conciliation, or by working disunion among thy foes, or by gift of money or violence, or well-directed policy. What can be a matter of greater grief than that I, deprived of friends, should live upon food supplied by others, after having brought thee forth, thou enhancer of the joys of friends? Fight, according to the practices of kings. Do not sink thy ancestors (in infamy). With thy merit worn out, do not, with thy younger brothers, obtain a sinful end.'"
Next: Section CXXXIII